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St. Joseph’s Care Group building gets green designation

The Sister Margaret Smith Centre is saving $80,000 per year in operating costs because of energy-saving initiatives.
Lead architect John Stephenson, St. Joe's president and CEO Tracy Buckler and St. Joe's chairman of the board of directors Ray Halverson were on hand to celebrate the Sister Margaret Smith Centre's LEED gold certification Thursday. (Jodi Lundmark,

The Sister Margaret Smith Centre is saving $80,000 per year in operating costs because of energy-saving initiatives.

The centre celebrated its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification Thursday; LEED certifications are determined by the Canada Green Building Council and the St. Joseph’s Care Group building is the first to achieve the gold ranking in Thunder Bay.

FORM Architecture Engineering partner and lead architect for the three-year-old building John Stephenson said compared to other buildings in Canada of similar type, size and purpose, the Smith Centre is using 65 per cent less energy than the national average.

They’re also saving $80,000 in annual operating costs, which Stephenson said quickly adds up and easily pays for the cost of implementing the energy-saving initiatives.

“The payback is quick,” he said. “It’s less than five years on the energy savings.”

There were about 45 to 50 energy-saving initiatives acknowledged in the LEED evaluation system. The building is well-insulated and the windows are high-performance.

The floor plan is also designed to allow the maximum amount of sunlight possible and the ventilation system brings is 100 per cent fresh outdoor air, said Stephenson.

St. Joseph’s president and CEO Tracy Buckler said being environmentally-friendly is something they want to pay close attention to for present and future generations.

“We think it’s completely appropriate as a health care organization to be looking at the environment as an important part of therapy and to be looking at it from a healing perspective for the clients we serve and for the staff who work in our building to provide the most environmentally-conscious and appropriate building,” she said.

Everything from lighting to fresh air and plants make a big difference, said Buckler.

“There’s a lot of evidence to support the therapeutic nature of having an environmentally-friendly environment,” she said. “Hopefully it helps with healing…with treatment and therapy.”

Buckler added it will also help with the centre’s staff, who in caregiver positions deal with quite a bit of stress.

“It can cause burnout. We want to support our staff in a building that’s is the most friendly and supportive and nurturing for clients and for staff,” she said.

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